Whether you love or hate professional footballer Joey Barton, there’s one thing you have to admit – he is a social media genius. There’s simply no way to avoid the lovable scamp, especially if you’re an avid Twitter user. He has over 3 million followers in Twitter, which is impressive when you consider that Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez (currently ranked the 11th best player in the world by ibtimes.com) only has 1.24 million followers. Let’s go one step further. Joey plays for Championship club Burnley, who only have 126k Twitter followers!
So what’s his secret?
Barton’s tweets are engineered in a specific way to attract attention – driving heavy amounts of social media traffic to his account. But why exactly do his tweets circle the internet hundreds of times a day? Lots of people crave attention on Twitter, but Joey can reel it in by the bucket-load on a regular basis without even trying.
The secret? It’s a simple case of using emotion to get a response. Barton’s tweets are carefully constructed to tickle the typical Twitter user in just the right (or wrong) way – provoking them to respond on occasions when they might ordinarily have scrolled past.
Say what you want about Barton, but if social media is all about getting your content shared – he’s among the very best. Those wanting to make their content go viral can probably learn a lot by taking a leaf from his book. Here’s how…
1) Challenging Statements
The immediate trait that springs to mind when describing Joey Barton is “controversial”. Barton regularly posts contentious statements on his Twitter page in an attempt to cause uproar. According to researchers at Beihang University in China, anger travels faster than any other emotional response on the web, so it’s hardly a surprise that he’s spoken about so frequently.
Of course, deliberately angering people isn’t necessarily the best way to push a product, image or post, so it’s worth taking Barton’s tactic with a pinch of salt when you want something to go viral. This tweet has been retweeted thousands of times – it’s just a shame for Joey that he has since moved to Burnley.
@GaryMurg We might be crap. We may well be over really over rated but at least we don’t live in Burnley!
Tinting content with challenging elements will provoke the kind of heated response that encourages debate. Inciting anger isn’t recommended, but rousing discussion certainly is. Think up something challenging when trying to go viral.
For another example, check out how Protein World dealt with a backlash against their Tube advertising. The brand’s antagonistic approach to complaints shouldn’t have worked – but it actually won them an enormous amount of support!
2) Element Of Surprise
For all his controversial quips and constant cursing, Barton has revealed an intelligent side to his persona from time to time on Twitter. While celebrities posting quotes from famous philosophers would normally be retweeted a few hundred times and then forgotten about, Barton’s established reputation as a bad-boy means that whenever he posts anything insightful – it gets noticed.
Take this tweet for example:
@Joey7Barton: Its a British trait to be embarrassed by sounding to positive, we are not aware of our own self worth as a democratic society. Embrace it
Here, Barton offers a valid view on the ever-important topical issue of national pride, suggesting that everyone in the country ought to display passion without feeling insecure about it. For a person who often comes across as vitriolic, it was huge surprise to see this appear on his account. The tweet was subsequently shared and scrutinised all over the web.
What you can take from this tweet is how Barton plays on the emotional aspect of surprise. Shock can shoot across social media in a matter of moments. By posting something a little out of the ordinary and different to your typical topics, you might find that you open up your content to a brand new audience.
3) Keep The Ball Rolling
When an article or image receives a great deal of exposure across the web, it’s easy to sit back and watch it ping around different pages with a wry smile. What a lot of people forget is that this is the best time to increase the viral momentum even further. Actively addressing/commenting on a popular trend that you instigated or influenced will draw more traffic to your account – with people eager to see how you respond to the attention. Barton is a perfect example.
As his Twitter account continued to amass more followers, he acknowledged the surge by tweeting:
@Joey7Barton: Just hit 150k followers, decent. Didn’t think my daily drivel would interest anyone but seagulls………U know who u r!! Squalk squalk
As interest in his account increased, Barton played on this widespread emotion of curiousness to attract further attention and also ensure his critics remain in their place (“U knw who u r!”). This way, he kept his old followers interested and intrigued new ones.
Over to you!
Whether you’re a football fan or not, we challenge you to follow Joey Barton for a month and see what you can learn. What does he do differently from the crowd? What works and what doesn’t? Good luck!
Image Credit – Wikipedia Commons